Friday assorted links


who knows Orwell?
Senor Marcus knows Orwell

"Is becoming" ?

Way behind the curve, pal.

hey harvard
when comrade houseplant pelososi says "people will do what people will do" and starts talking about her dead grannies earings in response to a question about rioting & arson- is that a non sequitar, a tautology,
or dementia?

White nationalism is anti-racist.
Protesters are looters.
Civil rights infringe on freedom.
My self-interest determines the scope of morality.
Judging people's intentions by what they say and do is baseless presumption.

Yes, Orwell would be proud.

thats about 5 false assertions in a row. what is your P.R.
according to the white is not capitalized
“individualism,” “perfectionism,” “intellectualization” and “objectivity” are all vestiges of this internalized racism and must be abandoned in favor of social-justice principles."
have you done your daily antiracist affirmation?
please affirm to the rest of your class what is your required daily
antiracist affirmation?

The only relevant "advance" in monoclonal antibody therapy that's going to mean anything is getting the price down to about ten dollars per treatment. Lemme know when they've broken that barrier. Otherwise, it's an academic exercise for all but the wealthiest people on the planet.

If you cant afford $10to save your life you have a real problem.

The average yearly cost of mAB treatment is close to 100K. . In this case it would be less because I assume one or two treatments might be enough. They're expensive

How can you get to $100K. Most of the mAb treatments are at most $2.5K per month (Humira & Enbrel).

see here

If you're planning on giving the treatment to a "herd immunity" fraction of the *entire planet's population* (say, oh let's be generous, only 30% of 7.5 billion) and can't get it down to $10.00/treatment, *civilization's* got a problem.

Monoclonal antibodies are a non-starter until the average Ethiopian (or his/her government) can afford the treatment. Herd immunity via infection or stupidly cheap vaccines are the only games in town.

+postmodern sophistry
"The only relevant "advance" in monoclonal antibody therapy that's going to mean anything is getting the price down"
what over priced sociology did you attend?
this actually looks like a big advance and will likely prove to be important

Manufacturing for the volumes needed ( millions of doses) will be a big challenge. It’s a complex process not easy to scale

that doesn't mean the nature study is not a "relevant advance" as reductively misdefined by the the sociology dept.

#3 - "The Source" by Tony Allen excellent also.

5. Art and memorabilia is not a good investment. The ease of fraud, much easier than stocks, bonds, or real estate, is one reason why.

#4: that's awesome. I would add that the original owner attempted to place a curse on the ring-thief, and in LOTR, the ringbearers are also cursed by possessing the ring, (e.g., Gollum). Sooo....maybe?

Just remember if the One ring doesn't get thrown in the volcano Roman civilization will be destroyed!

I wonder if Zost and company will get a patent on that COVID treatment?

6. Here's a good summary of the approaches to producing a vaccine: Some approaches are similar but some are radically different from the others. I've pointed out that Operation Warp Speed has chosen to fund only a very limited approach. Do you know which one? I assume both Cowen and Tabarrok know. Maybe it would be helpful if, with each blog post about the progress in developing a vaccine by particular researchers, the blogger would identify which approach the researchers are taking to produce a vaccine. I appreciate this is not a science blog, but what is the point of a horse race blog post that doesn't provide context. It would be no different from all those horse race political stories one reads in the media, but it's assumed by the authors and editors of those stories that the readers are ignorant and only understand horse races.

5." there are no fakes"
is an excellent art forgery documentary chock full of creepy
canadians & barenaked ladies

Well, the Barenaked Ladies ARE Canadian, but I never found them too creepy.

If I had a million dollars, I would buy you some art (a Picasso or a Garfunkel).

I wouldn’t recommend Garfunkel.

at the end of the day
what would make our journey happier
is if we mebbe we got one of each a picasso & a garfunkel

2. I've read many explanations for why so many support Trump, but perhaps the best is they feel his pain: they are as insecure as Trump himself. Trump tries to overcome his insecurities with lies and bombast, especially lies about his own intelligence and business successes. These folks getting plastic surgery will accept the delusion offered by the "surgeon" that with just one more plastic surgery they won't be as ugly as they were the day before. Happiness is an illusion for those with delusions.

Have you ever considered NOT typing out your hallucinations? I mean, ever? They are clearly not going away, and typing isn't helping you.

You got five more years of Trump, and you're going to hate it. Find help.

Have you ever considered NOT typing out your hallucinations? I mean, ever? They are clearly not going away, and typing isn't helping you.

You have got the rest of life, and you're going to hate it. Find help.

waywards cornball pop-psychology

1. It's interesting that Bergman was making this kind of television 50 years ago in Sweden. "Fanny and Alexander" was also a miniseries.

#5 If you had a Star Trek replicator that could make atom-for-atom copies of your favorite artworks, what would they be worth? What about if the provenance were verifiable, vs. unverifiable?

The fine art market is a bit like a cryptocurrency. As long as you accept that an atom-for-atom copy without provenance is less valuable than the original, then you must accept that some of the value is the socially constructed meaning assigned to the original, in the same way that a fork of Bitcoin, while functionally identical, has less value because of its provenance.

For cryptocurrencies and fine art, the value of the tokens is determined by the social, historical and economic capital of their community of users and enthusiasts. It is a way of securitizing a meme.

"Lovejoy" is another good old British series where nothing really happens. But if you've seen a couple episodes, you'd hardly be surprised by #5

Your question isn't theoretical. Music is asking this question right now. It's easy enough to make an exact copy of sound--we've been doing it for over a hundred years now (ignoring some myths about pottery), and digital music is simply a series of 1s and 0s. The market value of music is something that's currently in flux. It appears to be stabilizing at this point, but there remains a large volume of music shared digitally without payment changing hands.

That said, there's value and then there's value. Economic value isn't the only consideration. A copy of an inspirational artwork can still inspire. I've got a copy of a digital photo of my kids as my desktop on my work laptop for that reason--doesn't matter if it's the original or a copy, it's a photo of my kids being silly and a constant reminder of why I need to stay safe at work.

Provenance in music doesn't exist in that way though. For music the analogy is probably the experience of a particularly important live performance, which can't be replicated. I won't pay much to watch the video on youtube, but I'd pay to see Nirvana live in 1989, that's for sure.

For art, the point is exactly that some people at least claim that it *does* matter if its the original or a copy. Prices certainly suggest so. But if you can't tell which is which until someone tells you, is the value real or in the mind? And take that further: if you can't tell which artworks are valuable, where does the monetary value of art come from? From the same place as cryptocurrency: the consensus of a community of enthusiasts, gatekeepers, and meme-vectors.

"Provenance in music doesn't exist in that way though."

It has in the past. The Vatican used to have a very private song, which was stolen by one of the famous composers (Mozart, I think?). It was the song itself that was seen as valuable, not necessarily any individual occurrence of the song.

"...if you can't tell which artworks are valuable, where does the monetary value of art come from?"

Personal enjoyment. Which, of course, isn't something easily inserted into a spreadsheet, so many economists pretend it doesn't exist. And I would argue that ALL value is in the mind. I make jewelry in my spare time. A bracelet or necklace means very, very little to me--they take up space, and my interest is in the making, not the having. My sisters and nieces, on the other hand, value having the pieces. To me, it's clutter; to them, it's treasure. Same goes with pretty much any other commodity outside of water and air (even food is subject to preferences--see attempts to provide peanut butter to folks in war zones).

All art is in the mind--it confronts the viewer/listener by more and less convincingly saying both 'you exist' and 'others exist'--art's sublime effect is awareness of crossing the solipsistic void.

And people wonder why art is viewed as an investment rather than as...well, art. With such a concept of art, there's no potential to create anything with meaning. Your only hope of making an impact is to catch the latest fad, rake in as much money as you can, and get out before people realize the utter vapidity of your work.

There is no greater meaning than having the truly 'in the moment' transcendent experience that you are not alone. Art is one way of getting there. Art that does it may or may not become greatly monetizable; lots of monetizable stuff is mere decoration.

"There is no greater meaning than having the truly 'in the moment' transcendent experience that you are not alone."

Speak for yourself. My worldview is not so myopic.

For me, art is communication. The artist is trying to say something to a specific audience. Sometime's it's a profound and moving statement; sometimes the statement is "I think this is pretty" (which is no less meaningful, if you understand that aesthetics is a branch of philosophy). Sometimes it's "I can do this really hard thing" (the audience for this is fellow artists in that particular field). But art always is trying to say something to someone. If it's not, I don't think it qualifies as art; it's just something someone did, of no greater consequence than random paint splotches on a drop cloth.

All those things happen and all those things are artists' intent.

Whatever happened to that Wu-Tang album with only one copy?

Yeah, interesting case.

"In March 2018, following Shkreli's conviction for fraud, a federal court seized assets belonging to him worth $7.36m, including Once Upon a Time in Shaolin"

I'm guessing the paintings will have some residual value, but maybe only 5-10% of what they originally sold for, but the sports memorabilia will be nearly worthless (and most of that "value" will be the potential for future fraud, like empty expensive wine bottles).

I think authenticity is all, to the point that you could limit copyright on fine art to 50 years or something and high prices for Monets would still prevail?

Not to mention pickled sharks.

The more copying is possible, particularly undetectable copying, the more monetary value an 'authentic' original will have in a capitalist society. See Walter Benjamin.

6. I'm starting to find MR much less useful on COVID. The central story is somehow outside the site's narrative.

The central story?


You are one weird dude.

I believe you recognize that many countries have applied high (or effective) state capacity to beat pandemic.

You just oppose anyone who desires the same thing for the United States of America?

You link a tweet to a story about a mean email. The end result is nothing.

The CDC is not going to change its guidance to pregnant women based on a mean email from a political appointee.

Look at that, rather than engage with the advice from the Executive being bad, you take bizarre refuge in the idea that no one will believe it.

Is that how we truly achieve effective state capacity?


The CDC released guidance for pregnant women. Someone from DHS wrote a mean email about it. The guidance didn't change and will not change.

Because that's not how this works. That's not how any of this works.

See the recent idiocy over the CDC guidance to schools. The CDC is not going to change guidance to schools over some political nonsense. That's not how the government works.

Don't take it from me:

None of this stupidity is going to be the central story of the pandemic. It has no real world impact on pandemic outcomes.

Do you magically think that Governors still matter, as State Executives?

First let's just recognize that the CDC guidance is the CDC guidance. They're not going to change due to some political hack in HHS sending a mean email. And in fact they did not change the guidance. CDC came out yesterday and said they were specifically not going to change the guidance. So that entire thing is irrelevant to both policy and outcomes.

Governors are the level where the actual policy on the ground is made. So yes, on the margin the policies they put into place have an effect, at least on the timing if not actual overall numbers.

But they don't exist in a vacuum, the public choice constraints are still in effect. My hypothesis is that the public choice constraint effect dominates everything else. An example would be California locked down early, but couldn't sustain it. There was a limited 'public patience' resource that was eventually exhausted.

Hence my falsifiable hypothesis that by 2021/2022 there will be no statistically significant 'partisan variable' that correlates with deaths.

"Hence my falsifiable hypothesis that by 2021/2022 there will be no statistically significant 'partisan variable' that correlates with deaths."

With as country set of 1? Or as a cross-national comparison including say Australia or New Zealand?

Are you still betting on no difference in long term outcome between the Nordic countries?

In the United States, using either state voting share or county/district. But there would be dozens of other ways to slice the data in the US.

I've always been agnostic on the difference in long term outcomes between the Nordic countries, I've said repeatedly we won't know until 2021 or 2022. I was and still am glad we have two examples of 'no lockdowns' (and even better one 'no lockdown' with high mask % and one 'no lockdown' with almost 0% mask adherence) since that will be useful as a benchmark in future academic papers.

My initial guess would be that it mostly hinges on vaccine timing for Nordic outcome disparities, but I don't have a firm hypothesis on that.

By the way, I think this idea that presidents don't matter, but governors do, both because "public choice," is a house of cards in your head.

That's clearly seen as you try to frame the outcomes, for one country only, to protect your priors. Public choice, the actions of presidents, and governors, as tautology once again. Whatever it is in America, you argue, that's as bad as it had to be.

The land where the buck stops nowhere, and there in no competent counterfactual.

We almost had a discussion without insults and bad faith. Almost. But I'll still respond charitably.

Governors are setting actual policy on the ground, so they have an effect on the margin. The President is not setting policy on the ground because we have a federal system, that's the difference. And I still think the public choice constraints dominate, as I've said.

I'm not framing outcomes, I put forth a falsifiable hypothesis based on my priors, to put them to the test. That's about as forthcoming as one can possibly be. Feel free to take the other side of the hypothesis.

And the buck will still stop with the President, he'll likely lose the election. I'm not a Republican and I don't particularly care either way.

So, you simply can't comprehend that governors are forced to make more decisions "on the ground" when the chief executive punts on the same responsibility?

(There's a really bad argument in circulation that "presidents can't do anything because we are a republic," but I hope you're better than that.)

We have a federal system. The policy that's being made on the ground is made at the state level (mask requirements, lockdowns, social distancing etc). The policy that was made at the federal level would be things like border controls and instituting flight checks etc etc.

Did the POTUS bungle the federal level policy? Sure, I thought closing the border to non-citizens was idiotic. Threatening to kick out immigrant students is beyond idiotic. But neither of those is going to / did have appreciable real world outcomes in terms of the pandemic. It will probably have terrible outcomes for the immigrant students, and I hope Harvard and MIT win their lawsuit.

Are you under the impression the POTUS can institute lockdowns or close businesses in Imperial County?

"Are you under the impression the POTUS can institute lockdowns or close businesses in Imperial County?"

What a funny thing to say, as the President continues to use his bully pulpit to push in exactly the opposite direction. What argument are you setting up now? Should I imagine first a president with the right impulses? And then imagine the limits of his (1) leadership and (2) legal powers?

You lost me. Let's take California.

Policy in California is made at the governor level to include mask policy, stay at home orders, business closures, social distancing regulations, business operating requirements (plexiglass, max occupancy, etc), and large gathering/protest regulations.

Can you explain your operative theory here? I'm not seeing it. The CDC released reopening guidelines, as is their prerogative.

Is it that the POTUS uses his bully pulpit to make Gavin Newsom change his policies? I have a lot more respect for Gavin Newsom than that.

The counterfactual is actually that President Romney makes a sober speech and asks people to listen to the CDC.

Since Gavin Newsom is also listening to the CDC there is no conflict there.

Since it is a Republican asking, the whole idea that lockdowns are a complete loss of freedom, or that masks are socialism, never takes root.

If that's the case, then partisan share should be a statistically significant variable for Covid outcomes.

I've explained my priors, and my falsifiable hypothesis that it will not be a statistically significant variable. You're free to take the opposite side.

Huh? Do you have some means of statistical analysis across parallel worlds?

I'm trying to infer your operative theory in good faith here, since you refuse to lay it out clearly. So if I'm mistaken please correct it in good faith:

1) You believe the POTUS makes his partisans view lockdowns and masks less positively
2) this makes state policy different based on partisan makeup
3) policy affects overall outcomes
4) outcomes will be different based on partisan makeup

This fits nicely with my hypothesis, since it's falsifiable

I am saying it makes a difference .. well I can name four parallel worlds:

With Democrat or Republican president.

With or without the president supporting lockdown.

I don't see how you can decode all those results from one pass through one timeline.

The operative theory, can you lay it out? Still assuming good faith here:

1) You believe the POTUS makes his partisans view lockdowns and masks less positively
2) this makes state policy different based on partisan makeup
3) policy affects overall outcomes
4) outcomes will be different based on partisan makeup

It's because it affects the state level policy? How is this different from yours?

We apparently have fundamentally different views of the universe. Mine includes more Heisenberg? I can see decisions made in our past, I can see how they were pivotal, but I would not presume to know some calculable impact of any alternative. I not expect that the results along a different decision tree would be available from our timeline.

But given the impact of fairly random presidential decisions (or the decisions of their attractive interns) in the past, it's not hard to image a fast array of possible outcomes.

That alone is enough to reject the idea that "it doesn't matter who is president."

And that alone is enough to ask Presidents to be their best, to the best of their moral and rational ability.

That's great and everything. Again in good faith, I'm not asking for you to calculate impact, I'm asking for your causal chain of A leads to B leads to C. You started out with federal policy and state policy, now we're at alternate timelines with no policy specifics whatsoever.

What's your operative theory here? How is yours different from what I laid out?

Without one it screams of unfalsifiability

If I say this: "And that alone is enough to ask Presidents to be their best, to the best of their moral and rational ability."

Should you really demand "falsifiability?"

I've asked for you operative theory several times. I've engaged in good faith.

I assumed you had an actual mental model for how the POTUS has affected Covid outcomes, since you have such strongly held opinions about it. I explained my priors, the logic behind my priors, and put forth a falsifiable hypothesis on the record to test said priors.

At this point you switch gears completely to put an anodyne statement and then question why I would demand falsifiable hypotheses to test our priors.

I mean, I tried dude. Trying to punt out of explicitly laying out an operative theory or causal model to explain your thinking is lame.

As I say, our models of the universe are a bit different.

Yes, you don't have a coherent one. That's why you can't express it in a falsifiable hypothesis.

To say it straight up, I think it takes a special kind of idiot to think that hypotheses about alternate paths through history (counterfactuals) are "falsifiable."

It takes a special kind of idiot to think that the results of those alternate paths can be discerned from regional variation in one path through history.

Finally, it takes a very special kind of idiot to think that you can be so sure about the results of all these impossible things to think that if confirms just your, and no one else's, priors.

As I say, that's why I believe in simpler things, like the pursuit of morality and reason, in the face of an uncertain world.

This is pretty sad. It's almost entirely ad hominem. You're in your 60s. A pretty juvenile reaction.

Ad hominem in reaction to having a good faith conversation asking for your operative theory or causal model of how policy impacts outcomes.

Instead of expressing your thoughts into a logical model with a falsifiable hypothesis you resort to school yard insults.

I said I'm 90% sure of my priors, and to signal my confidence put forth a testable falsifiable hypothesis. It's either correct or incorrect. I could very well be wrong!

Instead of engaging in the realm of falsifiability, you resort to totally non-falsifiable anodyne statements as a form of deflection.

Lame, dude. An adult should be able to express their mental model coherently and cogently

You have never explained how you can decode the effect of a better, more moral, President.

You just don't care, because you think you can decode regional variations with a bad president.

Sick, immoral, infantile in a different way.

All I see is a childish adult terrified of putting their priors into a hypothesis.

Much like the people you despise, your worst nightmare is factual evidence and rationality.

Gross, I thought your tribe was supposed to be 'pro science'.

You sure threw that out the window quickly

We get it. You hate Trump.


Do you actually want federal lockdowns and masks? These policies should be instituted at the household level, not the federal or state or even county level.

Is it possible to be a moralist and a rationalist and love Trump?

Yes we can love him a lot, the second he retires.

For those in the audience, one of Skeptical's foundational beliefs is that it doesn't matter who is President. So therefore (and this is the way his logic flows) it doesn't matter if the President of the United States is for or against lockdown. The national outcome must be the same.

I replied above. Keep in mind, anon, lockdowns are a state, not federal policy. More specifically, the CDC released reopening guidelines and the governors of each state decide how closely to follow said guidelines.

I would love to hear your operative theory clearly laid out though.

I answered above, but as a bonus nationwide BLM marches probably never happen because Romney did not make the country into the same kind of powder keg.

Skeptical---agree with much of your comments above.

You leave out (so I don't know what you think about them, not a criticism) (a) federal handling of PPE, especially for the first several months, and (b) recent Trump threats to school funding, K through college, for not reopening.

Both seem to me to be direct federal interventions into the ability of states to run their affairs (and, to me, do not look like good management, adding to Trump Administration 's low grade on all this). I agree Trump is not in charge of everything, but on what he did handle or jutted into, he can be graded, right?

Don't underestimate the pressure on red states of Trump saying X; they will have a fair to possibly majority of voting true believers that will hold not following Trump's drift against the state officials. I don't think someone like Newsom cares at all, and any definitive Trump adverse actions would be welcomed in a way to permit public standing up.

a) PPE - I would give him an F for not restocking the strategic stockpile. He had two years, so no excuses that Obama also didn't restock it. Surely some medical professional deaths would have been prevented in NYC and Mass if it had been restocked. I've yet to see concrete specifics on the rest of the federal interventions in PPE other than anecdotes, so I won't comment on what I don't know. To everyone citing the DPA it's entirely irrelevant - the supply is the supply. 3M and the rest upped their production to the maximum extent possible, they don't need a bureaucrat telling them to make more masks to sell.

I don't think this had a measurable impact on overall deaths, but probably had an impact on a micro level in NYC when there was no reserve of PPE to ship to the hospitals there

b) education funding - Trump says stupid things and almost never understands what he's talking about. If he tries to strip funding from schools it will immediately be shut down by the courts. He has no authority to do this and I would be willing to bet large sums of money it never even makes it to the courts.

To your last point, if I were to steelman anon's position using your last paragraph:

1) Trump has a core following of around 35% of the population
2) this 35% listens to him
3) Trump can shape public choice constraints by his messaging to this group
4) these public choice constraints affect state policy
5) state policy affects Covid outcomes

Falsifiable hypotheses from this operative model (not one I subscribe to) :

1) Covid deaths can be predicted by partisan share
2) Covid deaths can be predicted by who controls governor's mansion

I would say there's a paper to be written with differences in differences based on 2020 election - states that switched governor from R to D and the resulting outcomes.

For the record I predict no statistically significant partisan variable. I would go even dumber and say what WILL be predictive is 'amount of litter on the ground per square mile' or some other indirect way to measure societal trust

Thanks. Sensible. I think you are underestimating the 'persuasive' effect in red states where that 35% is more like 65%, but its just a guess by me with no thought by me of how to measure. I seem to remember some governors' kness buckled and jumped on the 'let's reopen now' wagon after some Trump grumbling, but maybe not.


I very well might be underestimating persuasive effects. I'd put it at a personal 90% confidence that even with persuasive effects it's irrelevant to the point of statistical noise in Covid outcomes.

At 90% confidence I would say 'Litter and single motherhood rate" will be many times more predictive than partisan share, in terms of the regression model for deaths.

But this is all based on my priors. We'll see.

But you can make up numbers to confirm your beliefs, and that's the main thing.

By the way, how the heck is "65%" falsifiable?

And gosh darn it, to threat this horrible pandemic response as an opportunity for data collection rather than the national tragedy that it is.

I can't even.

You are *already* not interested in better federal response because you are *already* convinced (with your immovable priors) that it cannot make a difference.

The numbers are my priors, yes. My priors are in fact so movable I'm willing to put forth a falsifiable hypothesis. If it's wrong I'll happily admit I was wrong, and update my priors.

This is how rational adults function. I state my priors and a falsifiable hypothesis attached to them.

As with any rational person, I approach it from a disinterested angle willing to update priors as new evidence comes in.

You are *already* not interested in better federal response because you are *already* convinced (with your immovable priors) that it cannot make a difference.

My priors are entirely movable, that's the point of putting forth a hypothesis. If the data changes, then I'll update my priors.

Your emotional response is beyond bizarre. If you have a different operational theory of how policy affects outcomes, then present it.

My emotional response?

You mean because 130,000 people have died and I can't just treat it as a convenient experiment?

That's an emotional response. Childish. Juvenile. Is this a white Boomer thing? I'm not white nor a Boomer.

If your theory is that emotional responses should guide policy, then put forth your operational theory or causal mechanism. Personally, I think it's absurd.

As for me I'm not a child.

I approach the real world with priors, falsifiable hypotheses, and a willingness to update my priors when new evidence comes in. That's why I publicly commit to putting my hypotheses in the record.

You've yet to commit to any hypothesis at all. Non-falsifiable signaling is a great signal of bullshit emotionalizing.

The whole pandemic/riots have shown that there's still a lot of power at the state level. The feds give guidance, but the states did as they pleased. Even back in the Bush II era, Bush famously had to call the gov of LA three times during Katrina to get permission to get troops in there to help with the hurricane.

You can always read my Newsletter You can subscribe for the free daily if you like. It is the unvarnished truth about developments in vaccines and therapeutics.

Looks very good. Week 15 page 41 might have a run-on HTML tag.

Is there anything new in this? Seems like standard par for the course commentary really. When the elected government steps back, talks about 'being led by the science' and lets medical authorities and local authorities come to the fore it's 'abrogation of leadership, and an absence at the centre'... when they step forward to direct events and messaging its 'anti-science governments sidelining medical authorities and excessive centralisation of power'.

The 2 metre rule and spread in schools, for instance, is portrayed as some unimpeachable matter of scientific consensus, and deviation from it 'anti-science', when there's actually considerable disagreement. (E.g. - "There is no scientific evidence to support the disastrous two-metre rule. ").

The proper job for the executive is to give motivational speeches and then empower domain experts.

If those domain experts have an evolving understanding of a problem, that's fine too.

The alternative would be domain experts who stick on first conceptions. No good.

I'm coming here from a country where this idea that in this crisis, the role of Executive is to be blandly nice person with good character, who effectively rubberstamps the technocratic consensus for public consumption and has little to no fixed policy preferences of their own, has been roundly criticized (mostly by the left) when the government has actually done it, with the charge that it's an attempt to evade responsibility and avoid making inherently political value choices that can't be delegated to experts.

And those criticisms do actually have teeth. There are political and ethical and moral judgments, and the weight on yes, conflicting interests, that are involved that cannot be delegated to science or "domain experts".

(More generally, outside this crisis it's a horrible political programme - "Get someone with good 'character' who is elected to the public and then have them be the face for executing plans in which they really have no initiative". Worse for some things, less worse for others, mostly bad.)

>The famous South American country

Thanks, Thiago. We were all wondering where it was.

Although some experts such as Fowler opposed it, it is common practice to replace a name with a synonym or near-synonym to avoid tedious repetition. When journalists, politicians and public officials call Trump "the President", it is not because they fear readers and listeners have forgotten who Trump is and why we have been paying attention to his tweets.

O/T. Trump v. CDC. Who's failing whom?

This is kind of a critical moment for MR. They have been lengthy in their treatments of problems at the CDC and the FDA. If they go silent at this moment what does it mean?

Does some prior commitment to never directly criticize the Executive still hold?

MR spends too much time on the manufactured controversies of anti-pc letters signed by cancel practitioners themselves and pseudonyms that want to pseudo while broadcasting their lives on the internet. Between them we had over a thousand comments. Let that sink in.

Did you see the denouement of what happened to the Vox writer who complained about Yglesias signing the Harper’s letter?

While the internet will be a better place without her, "Death threats, rape threats, invitations to commit suicide, constant misgendering, etc." is crazy. Kind of crazy she lumps misgendering in with the others too.

not in this context

misgendering is the point of the death threats

+1 tiramisu of irony
the letter was a warning against the cancel culture mob.
the "denoument"as you defined it actually validates the letter.
the vox writer objected to the letter warning about what happened to the vox writer.
very postmodern

Interesting. Never criticize the Executive. There's some evidence for that. However, I assumed it was more of clinging to a libertarian sacred cow.

Namely: Alphabet agencies are rogue, unaccountable, impervious, and imperious entities unto themselves. Composed of alien body snatchers. While the budget control and political appointees are powerless and their control over communications and promotions is meaningless. The staff are evil bloodsuckers who do not care about their careers and have ideological agendas which they brazenly push.

I mean, this is the contemporary Libertarian Founding Myth. They read Ayn Rand in high school it hits them on the head like the Apple in Eden. It's mutated and merged with the "Deep State" conspiracy theory.

The idea that CDC and FDA are brazenly defying Trump is ridiculous on its face. And the notion that Trump's deranged leadership, meddling, and deconstruction has no impact is ludicrous. After decades of systemic deconstruction by the GOP, culminating in this horror show. Libertarians are the only ones surprised that the agencies are struggling. And their only explanation seems to be that the agencies are doing it on purpose.

Pretty much nothing you said is reflective of what libertarians think. And for the record, MR has criticized the executive dozens of times in the last few months alone.

I'd say outgroup homogeneity bias but this is way too over the top to take seriously.

Never directly, only in passing. Perhaps they fear that if they stood flat footed and said that he had led a terrible pandemic response they'd be accused of "outgroup homogeneity bias." Or some such hand waving.

That's not what outgroup homogeneity bias means. And it's not hand waving, it's a plea for rationality in discourse.

They specifically criticized him multiple times, and specifically for what really can be laid directly at his feet: the almost comically poor messaging and communication. Not sure what else you're looking for here

Really, what's your best link for an MR essay centered on the President's "comically poor messaging and communication?"

This comes to mind:

If there were a separate risk communication grade, Trump would get an F minus for that.

As I said, "Never directly, only in passing"

A throw away line, and not in fact an essay.

You wanted an entire essay to say 'there's bad messaging from the POTUS?' You said "never directly". Now that it's immediately disproven you're shifting the goalposts to requiring an essay. Insanity and childish.

That's idiotic, especially without a causal theory of why that would even make a difference. You're factually wrong, you stated something incorrect and it's been proven incorrect.

"a plea for rationality"

Not very credible coming from a troll who uses 74% of his posts to write "Turing fail."

That's an ironic set of text

boy skep, when you learn a new word, you sure get your money’s worth.

it’s like you’ve got troll tourette’s

yip yip yip

It’s not a word. I didn’t recently learn it.

You just always seem to spam posts that are literally just outgroup homogeneity bias and strawmen.

It might cheer you up to know these people don’t think the way you assume they do. Shouldn’t that be good news?

That would cheer me up if it were true.

Inasmuch as we are on a blog that routinely features the headline "our regulatory state is failing us," you've chosen a weird hill to die on

Right, a regulatory state which is curiously not the responsibility of its chief executive.

One can believe our "regulatory state is failing" and also not believe about 90% of what you said.

This should be good news.

Brazilians are dying at a faster rate than Americans. When the deaths per million in Brazil go higher than the death per million in the U.S., will anyone remember what Bolsonaro said about Hydroxychloroquine.

The situation is basically under control of the proper authoritities. The economy has reopened and soccer matches have resumed without much trouble. Brazil has prevailed against all odds. Even if Brazil and its State last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.”

It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link of the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.

Granted, but as the old saying goes, a nation is strong when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they will never sit.

Tabarrok has done great work, which I have praised many times. Keep it up. That Tabarrok and Cowen may have different missions is a strength of this blog.

Cowen has done great work, which I have praised many times. Keep it up. That Tabarrok and Cowen have different missions is a strength of this blog.

#4 is cool to learn, in the interests of commenting (rather insubstantially) on a less interesting than typical set of links. (... Surprised no commentary on the Biden Protectionist Plan yet on MR?).

Biden’s plan on trade is pretty vague and focuses on the same points Democrats have raised for decades like needing to have higher environmental and labor standards in trade deals. In some areas it will likely favor freer trade (such as looser IP laws to bring down pharma prices and criticizing Trump’s trade war on China and tariffs on US allies). The thing that’s more concerning is that they have Stephanie Kelton of MMT on their economic policy committee...

The notion that Geriatric Joe could design a plan is very sweet.

How did I know you'd respond with projection on "Buy American" ( with what you'd want to hear...

I prefer to read primary sources given that the media always has its own spin:

Here is what it says about trade: “Building A Fair System of International Trade. For too long, the global trading system has failed to keep its promises to American workers. Too many corporations have rushed to outsource jobs, and too many countries have broken their promises to be honest and transparent partners. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the risks of relying too heavily on global supply chains, as shutdowns and shortages have created chaos for workers and consumers and made our public health response even more challenging. And the Trump Administration has failed time after time to deliver for the American people on this crucial issue, launching a trade war with China that they have no plan for winning— creating incredible hardship for American farmers and workers in the process.
Democrats will pursue a trade policy that puts workers first. We will negotiate strong and binding standards for labor, human rights, and the environment in the core text of our trade deals, including enforcement, because having fair trade means that no trading partners should be able to capture market share by undermining our product, consumer, environmental, or labor standards. We will eliminate trade and tax policies that promote the offshoring of pharmaceutical manufacturing and raise prices on medications for American patients. We will use all tools at our disposal to take action against countries that manipulate their currencies to get an unfair advantage in international markets. And we will take immediate action to repair the damage President Trump’s reckless policies have done to American farmers, by working with our allies to stand up to China and negotiate from the strongest possible position.“

I think my summary is fair and accurate.

Idiotic. Another reason to never vote for Biden.

Indeed, it is idiotic. But it is better than the alternative.

I don't know, the Birthday Party hasn't put out anti-free trade vitriolic bullshit yet.

If free trade were the only issue I’d probably vote libertarian again like I did in 2016...

But I personally know people whose lives were very badly screwed by Trump changes to immigration law... I’d feel complicit in that if I went libertarian again, though of course I respect people who vote third party as I used to do so myself.

Also it doesn’t seem like third parties have been able to have much impact. Gary Johnson got over 3% of the vote and was the margin of victory in more than enough swing states to tip the election, yet it seems both major parties have become even less libertarian.

You should do what you believe is the right decision.

I look at Biden’s policies towards us (Chinese-Americans) and I see insanity, scapegoating and overt racist discrimination.

My kids are born legacies twice over, they’ll be fine. Are yours ?

If you're referring to affirmative action, Biden won't control affirmative action, especially not at private universities. I think Biden could lead to fewer affirmative action programs in the long-run by tamping down on woke culture. This woke stuff started before Trump but Trump has clearly exacerbated it. A lot of people might've thought the idea of America as systematically racist was absurd (as I once did) until they saw who we elected president, which has in turn made a lot of them much more supportive of things like affirmative action. Look at this poll, showing flat support for affirmative action among whites from 2001 through 2016 and then a sudden upwards movement after 2016:

Maybe I'm being naive, but I do have a bit of hope that Biden, as a nice white guy who is at least moderate in tone, can be a unifier on racial issues. I think a lot of people are absolutely exhausted of political and racial conflict and are ready to come together and settle down. That's why "Sleepy Joe" doesn't seem to be sticking; lots of people want a nap. Your average Democrat is not a campus SJW but a 40-something white woman who lives in a suburb and doesn't like to see videos or read news of the government doing outrageous stuff but also isn't going to support extreme wokeness if it substantially interferes with her own life or family. If the Democrats push too hard to be woke so that said woman feels like she can't live in a suburb or send her kids to college, a lot of those people are going to flip right back to the Republican side. I think Biden instinctively knows this and isn't going to push too hard.


You're not white. I'm not white. Your kids aren't white. My kids aren't white. Our kids are 'yellow'. You're from the mainland, my parents are from Taiwan. There are some differences via history, but we're fundamentally the same from a cultural perspective.

You're my elder, I respect you and your opinions. I hope that comes across enough in English.

I don't care about Biden. I do care about how your children and my children are treated. Trump wants to ban our families from moving here. He's a non starter. Biden wants our families to be second class citizens once they are here. To me he's a non starter.

I question the wisdom of allying with those who would cast our children as 'others' and told they must be perfect to compete. Why can we not ask for a level playing field?

I'm not Chinese (just married to one) and don't speak Chinese. My cultural perspective is my own. I actually don't like the whole idea of heritage, nationality, ethnicity, race, etc. I grew up in a jingoistic Middle-America culture I didn't really fit into or like and don't think anyone should be bound to what they are born into. I realize I'm outspoken about China sometimes, but that's because I see it unfairly targeted by the same jingos who were targeting Arabs 10-20 years ago, and I was just as defensive about Arabs then. As an anti-nationalist, I strongly oppose another Cold War or any kind of international conflict, which would inevitably strengthen nationalism on all sides (and I'm very saddened to see growing nationalism in China too).

I think people should be exposed to many cultures (and I do find Chinese history and culture very interesting) but ultimately pick and choose what they like as they form their own identity based on their own values as an individual.

Fortunately, I hope my kids will be able to pass somewhat given name and cultural background, but I am very sympathetic to people who feel judged based on their immutable characteristics that they never chose, and think it's very important that society move away from it. I don't see an easy way to get there though--maybe the best way is to have a lot more interracial marriage and children so that there aren't such well-defined categories between groups.

As for alliances, political alliances are always conditional and temporary and based on the needs and threats of the moment. Most Asian-Americans were Republicans in the 90s and are now Democrats, and could be Republicans again some day. I don't think many Democrats *intentionally* want Asian-Americans to be treated as second-class citizens; rather, a lot of the time they are just ignorant of the issues that impact Asian-Americans, particularly given how few Asian-American voters there are. The Harvard lawsuit led to a lot of I think helpful airing of perspectives on this issue. Also, people say that Democrats are a collection of interest groups whereas Republicans are an ideological movement, and I think there's a lot of truth to that. Democrats' positions are pretty fluid and try to accommodate all interest groups within the party. This is why it's hard for a Trump or Sanders-like candidate to blow away the party establishment; the party voters aren't really ideologically unified but are rather all just looking out for their own interests. If Asians do stick with the Democratic Party, I imagine they will also have a greater voice in the party and be able to push back and come up with more inclusive solutions on things like affirmative action.

Zaua, if you have a worldview where your view of international relations is mostly driven by opposition to some domestic tendency that you feel aliened from, as yours appears to be (alienation from what you perceive to be the general Midwestern herd), you're going to end up advocating for some pretty suboptimal things.

Consider your equivalent on the cultural right, who is disturbed by the cultural left's "jingoistic" advocacy against Saudi Arabia, Russia, Brazil, Hungary, Israel and other countries labelled as right/trad leaning. It would be a mistake for him to simply be a reactionary, responding to his cultural alienation from them and simply leap straight to advocacy for these countries and skepticism and downplaying of their actual realities.

Your take on foreign policy needs to be deliberative and preferably to place your nation's interests, and their allies, at its heart, or it'll end up being a mere extension of domestic squabbles that don't really lead you anywhere useful. Without the guide of national interest (of "nationalism"), ideas on foreign policy inevitably become dominated by mere neutral pacificism or by ideological struggle ("Workers of the world unite against the feudal-bourgeois regime!" and so forth).

No one wants war with China, as everyone can see how disasterous that could be. But there needs to be a recognition that in brief, "modernization theory" and "engagement" is wrong - China is not moving towards liberal democracy through engagement and development and its actual political direction is mostly due to internal currents in the Communist Party that are indifferent to anything external nations do. And that a more economically balanced Asia, with more decoupling of the PRC from anything strategically relevant, would be more in the interest of Western nations. The whole worldview that all that is needed for peace is simply trade and development, whatever the ideology, frankly no one really believes that any more. Once you cut through the Progressive boilerplate, Biden's campaign has perhaps moved there somewhat, to follow public mood and bipartisan consensus, a little. (Trump has never been particularly strong on this, seeing things only through the lens of trade balance and jobs. However through actually responding to the public in a way that all other candidates seemed to forget was even possible (mediating all their relationships through marketing consulting and political advisors), was the best of a bad bunch in 2016, compared to the Republican field and Hilary Clinton. And still is probably the best of a bad bunch on this issue. Whether it outweighs his poor governance ability, another question.)

Consulting primary sources *is* generally admirable. I'm not sure reading press releases which layer protectionism in Democrat on brand spin, and taking them at face value, then putting your own spin on it which downplays the protectionism, can really be fairly described thus.

#4: An extremely cool story. It would make sense that Tolkien might've taken some inspiration from that event, although he clearly was mainly drawing upon the same Anglo-Saxon and Nordic myths that Wagner was, with rings of power and dwarves and the like.

What I have trouble understanding is this: that image of Venus looks like a lion wearing sunglasses and nothing like images of Venus that I'm used to seeing.

And the lettering that is supposed to say "VENUS": it took me awhile to realize that the "VE" and the "NUS" are upside-down with respect to each other, and of course they are reversed for use on a seal.

But the result is that the "S" will be backwards on the seal, regardless of whether we view it rightside-up or upside-down.

Were backwards "S"'s standard in Roman times? This was presumably a pretty valuable ring so it boggles the mind that the ringsmith would've botched the writing. But maybe good artisans were hard to find in Britain in those days.

Your comment prompted me to look at the wikipedia entry: "To one side are the letters "VE" and to the other side "NVS", in mirror writing. When used as a signet ring to make a seal, the head and script would be raised, and the letters would appear the right way around."

You seem to be the only one who's noticed that Venus looks like she might have inspired Aslan, or need a shave.

Comments for this post are closed